You and a bunch of others have nothing to attend to on the night of New Year’s Eve. Best option? Go to a club in the town you are in. Excuse the bunch mentioned before, there are only three of you to count.
You are the female while they ascribe to the other gender. There is brewing excitement as you walk through the version of a CBD to the venue. You take photos of yourselves and the lights decorated on the trees. There is also a small Christmas tree to account for the birthday of Jesus.
Throngs and crowds of people welcome you to the entrance of the establishment you were to cross the year over from. Many many young people and spots of the aged. There is a detailed search ongoing by security. Safety is of utmost importance.
Trouble number one: They are checking ID cards. You give out yours and hope the “You are too young” tag doesn’t come up. Previously, you have been saved by being in older company hence identification was a non-issue. Once, total denial was expressed. Can you wait any longer to hit 25?
Two of you are through. It is a hopeless case so you get out to restrategize. In a small town like the one you are in, there are only too many places that could deliver the buzz. You managed to excuse yourself out and a new decade is overlooking. It is there or nowhere.
Luckily, there are two identical identification cards with the elder. The posing challenge being, their complexions are as different as night is from day. A little planning leaves you at the conclusion, the guy will persist with “sura ya kazi” to grant him the entrance once denied.
The stern face worked. You are ascending the flight of stairs. You all pay the entrance fee, certified by a fading stamp on the wrist. An accompanying card would also guarantee each one a solo beer. Door opens. You meet ‘packed to the brim’ in its element. It is circa 11pm.
As you were having your evening meal of rice with chicken earlier, you had decided midnight forwards was the time to make an arrival at a club.
Lesson to take to future club events: Take your asses there early or invest in a VIP ticket. Unless you are going there to dance your sorrows away, seating will not be waiting for you.
After sweeping the two floors clean for space to fit the trio, you convene to figure out the next course of action. The ‘denied access’ guy takes it up to negotiate. He waves you over. You unjacket yourselves and sink into the long leather lounge.
Mock of fireworks are lit to commemorate the new year. There is even a pastor to usher in God’s presence quickly backed up by the DJ’s string of gospel music. When the worshipping extravaganza dies down, those of you believing in oya shake body mill onto the dance floor.
It is the much dancing, highly testosteronized beings grabbing at you and the sweltering heat that leave you craving for a drink. You walk to the counter to get a taste of the cocktails they had been advertising all night, courtesy of their talented mixologist.
Lack of space leaves you squeezed between a drunk man and a pole. The man asks why you are so serious. Your default reply in your mind is the track: Do You See Anything To Smile About?
He keeps replaying the question and you get tired of forcing your smile. Could the mixologist prepare that drink FASTER? In the crowded space, there is no waiter to swim through all the drunk, dancing human bodies to get you your drink. It is a bottle or self-service.
Your eyes meet at your every turn. He is beckoning you to him. You focus on the man insisting on getting you to smile and the ice cubes crushed in your drink. When it is ready, you pick your glass, thank the man very much for creating space to accommodate you and walk away from the counter.
He is there to meet you. You slide past him to sip your drink in the corner. You cannot afford to pour the several hundreds worth of content in the glass trying to reach your table. You nod at his greeting simultaneous to your sip.
One side of his jaw is swollen. It is in motion. When he addresses you, the green stuff spike from his mouth. Looking at him, you can see the juice colouring his teeth green. Some of the leaves are threatening to fall out.
At the mention of your name, he tweaks it and calls you Rahma. He tells you his is Khalid. Khalid as your Islamic Religious Education (IRE) teacher condemned one of you for pronouncing it like a Christian. The Khalid which employs the throat muscles. The one which when people hear you say it, want to excuse themselves so as not to be recipients of outcoming phlegm.
You nod at the question of being a Muslim. That should settle it. The two of you in a haraam setting, in a haram scenario.
It is horrendous for a Muslim brother and sister to interact. Just a minute, there should be no relation whatsoever. Brothers to brothers and sisters to sisters. In between remains abhorrable. You remember a lecture by a certain sheikh that there should be no greetings between a Muslim man and a Muslimah.
Assalam Aleykum is to your gender. All along you had thought you can greet, with the rule of thumb not to do so in a “sweet” voice. You are not a sheikha. You cannot stop your mind from doubting what some of the sheikhs go around restricting. How are you to coexist?
You want to drum into him all the lessons you know at his suggestion of the two of you going into the adjacent room. Many like him, of Arab origin, were crowded in it with girls, girls like you. In his broken English, he pleads that you are simply going to talk. Your attention is on your drink.
Khalid had already mentioned the two of you going to a hotel room a good distance away, making you his girlfriend and taking good care of you. You are not a huge fan of hotels. You want a boyfriend but a guy who chews cud? You can wait and wait. And you are a big girl. Big girls care for themselves.
He says living at your uncle’s is no reason not to go out and “explore”. Besides, hadn’t you come out with your male cousins? Male cousins who Islamically are legal and eligible suitors for you. You want to explain that you are not like that with them but Khalid’s limited English is not enough to hold rational conversation.
It has a rehearsed tone to it. See girl, greet girl, ask girl, girl agrees and hurray!
Raising your glass up high, you dive straight into the crowds. Elbowing and dodging bodies while making momentary stops to recover from the activity. It is a relief to reach your station, drown your pink drink as you bob your head to the blasting music.
The after effect of it all is a pick up you are too glad to accept!